Andre Blake has been a pillar of consistency among chaos and uncertainty at the Philadelphia Union.
The 27-year-old goalkeeper, who has single-handedly kept the Union in certain contests during his tenure, was rewarded with a multi-year contract that was made official on Wednesday.
“We’ve been in talks for a while and I’m happy we were able to come to an agreement,” Blake told reporters on Wednesday.
At a club where top talents and fan favorites have turned over a good amount, Blake has been a consistent face and one that is ready to be the face of the franchise.
“I’m looking forward to spending more time with the team and when I’m ready I’ll lead in my own way and I’ll definitely try to lead with my performance on the field and the way I carry myself off the field. If I’m put in the role to lead the team, whenever it is, I’ll be ready,” Blake said.
Blake may have already achieved that status that has been previously reserved for Sebastien Le Toux, Vincent Nogueira, Tranquillo Barnetta and others with his play over the last two seasons, but Wednesday’s announcement cements his role.
Even with international veterans like Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin and 16-goal scorer C.J. Sapong on the roster, Blake is the one player on the roster who is almost guaranteed to make at least one game-changing play per contest, if not more.
In an environment where trust is thin at best with the club’s technical staff due to lack of spending, Blake has earned the trust of the fan base and he’s held in high regard.
The scary part about Blake is that he’s only expected to get better, a trend most goalkeepers follow as they get closer to their 30s.
“There’s a lot for me to develop and get better at,” Blake said. “Just keep working on becoming a better goalkeeper all around.”
Now that he’s finanically secured from a deal that was completed with Targeted Allocation Money, Blake doesn’t have to worry about a speculative move to Europe and focus solely on putting the Union in the best place to win now.
“Right now my main focus is Philadelphia,” Blake said. “I’m not worried about the future.”
Although it may be hard to find positives at a club that hasn’t brought in an outside signing yet this offseason, Blake is the glimmer of hope that Union fans need to see where the club can go with its current direction if younger players in the squad step into roles they’re expected to fill.
He may not be the type of leader you expect with his humble, laid-back personality, but the Jamaican is the perfect player to be the face of the Union for 2018 and beyond as the club tries to form an identity beyond the soccer diehards in the Philadelphia area.